Writing a Funny Book About Sad Stuff is No Joke

I started writing the book I’m working on in 2014. I had this idea to gather dating and relationship stories from people I knew, and I’d compile them into some sort of essay collection or litter them through a novel…I figured that all people are voyeurs and dating stories are full of scandal and misery, so it would make for very readable material. Friends sent me some juicy and delightful tales, and I stole a few more and changed some critical information…then, I started writing.

The book initially was a friendship tale between two women who co-host a dating and relationship talk radio show- and the stories I’d collected were the call-ins on their show. The hosts are interesting, hilarious characters, one of them single, the other married, unhappily, with two kids and a life crisis. As the story evolved, along with my own life and marriage over the past six years, the friendship and humor remain, but the protagonist became the married woman and the main issue of the novel morphed into the examination of her marriage and herself on the brink of collapse.

I considered all that I have experienced in my own marriage, and the countless conversations I’ve had with my married friends…and realize there are a lot of universal struggles. I started asking questions of why we marry, why we stay married, what it looks like to share a life, to co-parent and co-manage it all. I asked if it’s possible to keep one’s identity, to thrive as a woman, who is also wife and mother. Over these years, I’ve been doing my own cost-benefit analysis of marriage, and it made it into the story.

I realized that marriages are lost over a thousand weakened bonds, until only memories of a connection remains. The chronic bitterness and rage, the sense of obligation, the weight, the heavy, impossible weight of it all….all of that makes it into the book.

But it’s…funny?

So, that’s what I’m taxed with now- trying to finish a solid second draft of a full-length novel that honestly explores the nooks and crannies of marriage, but isn’t just a total super bummer. Beta readers (friends whom I owe pizza) have cried and have laughed, and I’ve gotten a lot of “Oh, man, me TOO, holy shit.” So I’m on the right track. I just have to keep going.

I sit down to DO the work and….it feels overwhelming so I stop. All the worries of the world and inside my house right now are taking up all the room in my head.

I’m hopeful that writing daily this month will get me back on track.

So, that’s what I’m working on….allegedly.

This is how we’ve eaten all of our meals in eighteen years of marriage.